Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel to Headline Stephen Sondheim's 'Sweeney Todd' on the West End

By Jon Sobel on Sep 20, 2014 01:48 PM EDT

Academy Award winner Emma Thompson and acclaimed bass-baritone Bryn Terfel will star in a semi-staged production of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at the Coliseum in London next spring. The brief 13-performance run will open on March 30, 2015, a year after the pair appeared in similar concert performances of the musical with the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center, a production that also featured Audra McDonald and Christian Borle.

The musical marks the inauguration of a new partnership between the English National Opera and commercial producers Michael Grade and Michael Linnit seeking to present "world-class musical theatre" in ENO's London Coliseum home aiming to transfer some productions to the West End — where Thompson will be making her first appearance in 25 years. Mission accomplished.

The Lincoln Center Sweeney Todd concerts were Thompson's first stage appearances anywhere in over two decades. Way back in 1989 she appeared on the West End in Look Back in Anger, and soon after in then-husband Kenneth Branagh's early-1990s Shakespeare productions. But she is far better known for her screen work, having won BAFTA and Academy Awards for Howard's End among other films.

Thompson also isn't well known as a musical performer (though one of her big breaks came in 1985 in a West End revival of Me and My Girl). Nevertheless she earned good reviews at Lincoln Center. Having admitted that she "had never felt so frightened," she was no doubt pleased to read commentary such as Roger Friedman's at Showbiz411: "Her Mrs. Lovett is a comedic gem. And it turns out Thompson can sing, especially Sondheim, with the best of them."

Bryn Terfel, in the title role, certainly represents "the best of them." Best known as an opera star, he has performed and recorded show music and is no stranger to Sondheim's oeuvre, having performed at the Royal Albert Hall in a concert celebrating the composer's works at the 2010 BBC Proms.

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TagsWest End, London, Sweeney Todd, Stephen Sondheim, Bryn Terfel, Emma Thompson, Musical, musical theater, Broadway Musical

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